Sunday, June 26, 2011

A day in Tokyo (6/22)

I woke up around 5 AM completely awake. I got dressed and walked around the shops around the hotel even though they were all closed. I went and bought a drink from the vending machine Around 6 I ate breakfast with my roomate. It was buffet style and mainly American, well Japanese take on American food. The "breakfasts sausages were hot dogs and the scrambeled eggs were watery and seemed undercooked. They had french toast which was exactly the same. They also had "pancake". Which IS similar to pancakes, but they make an enomrous single pancake and cut it like a pizza. They had home fries, which were my staple! I dressed up in slacks, collared shirt, tie and dress shoes and grabbed my passport and camera and went downstairs and boarded the bus. We visited the embassy (for JUSSE and Okinawa Peace Scholars-the US embassy funds our scholarships) and met with 4 foreign service officers for an info session about life in the foreign service and later a Q&A session. We left the embassy around 11 and took the bus to the YFU Japan headquarters. There we met with the Chairman of YFU Japan Yoshio Ogawara, a cool guy. He's 92 and he still chairs the organization. He was the Japanese ambassador to the US and the Japanese ambassador to Australia. We ate lunch with him at the YFU office. All Japanese food. I ate the best sushi I've ever had in my life. I used to think I didn`t like sushi, but maybe the sushi I`ve had just wasn`t as good as the real Japanese thing.

I also made some progress with chopsticks. I can't use them. I fail at that. I just can't pick things up with them, to the laughter and amusment and laughter of the YFU workers and my fellow exchange students. After lunch we boarded the bus for a tour of Tokyo! We saw Tokyo Tower, the National Diet building, the Imperial palace and most of the famous sights. We also visited the Tokyo-Edo museum. A museum dedicated to Japanese history, specifically the Edo period. There were lots of samurai exhibits and even a life size replica of a traditional Kabuki theater. However, the coolest part of the museum was the students. There were Japanese high school students visiting the museum too. We spent a lot of time talking with them, over an hour. With my limited Japanese I managed to talk an hour with these Japanese high school girls. They were sweet. They spent a good 5 minutes talking amonst themselves about how tall I am. I'm a giant here (6'). Some random high school boys asked to take a picture with me too! I felt like a celebrity! Haha. We got on the bus and headed back to the hotel for dinner of soba noodles. I finished up my meal quickly, and then went out with Samantha and Spencer and explored Tokyo. We only walked for about 30 minutes and came back to the hotel. There we picked up Brie and headed out again, but in a different direction. Tokyo is packed. There's just people everywhere. I'm glad I got to see the commuter traffic. We wondered around stopped at one of the amazing vending machines here and stopped in about 3 コンピ二 (convenience stores) which are fascinating. They even have 7-11 here in Japan. They also have Denny's, Outback steakhouse, and of course McDonalds. After wandering aimlessly we returned back to the hotel around 9. I took a shower, and then headed to another YFU student's room were I found about 9 other YFUer's talking. We talked and talked up a cacophony for 2 hours or so, all hyper and jet lagged. The hedonist pleasure of the moment eschewed concerns of how early (6am) we had to wake up the next day. We knew this was our last full day together and we soaked it up. I ended up going to sleep around 11:30

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